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Holmleigh Park High School

Letter from the Head - 19th March 2021

In this issue: Clubs are BACK, and the results of our parent survey. 

Dear all,

First, a quick reminder that today is deadline day for Year 9 options. You can find full guidance here

It's been a great week. With our mass testing programme finished, our support staff were back out in the school. Although we've still got a significant number of staff shielding, the school was much closer to full capacity. Please can I thank you for your support with testing at home - we've had close to 1,800 results reported to us this week. Please do continue to log these via

Please can I also remind parents that the test isn't a substitute for self-isolation. In particular, if your child develops any symptoms of COVID-19, they should remain at home, even if their home test kit result is negative. In such cases you should get a PCR test, which is considerably more reliable. 

Moving on from COVID, the most joyful part of this week - hands down - has been the return of our clubs programme. It's been wonderful to see students back on the field and in classrooms after school. If you haven't already, please do have a look at the timetable and discuss it with your child. 

The main focus for this week's letter is the parent survey. First, thank you to those of you who took the time to complete it over the past three weeks. We had just under 200 responses, and these have given us some really useful and important feedback. I wanted to share some of the main findings, and some of the things we're planning to do in response.

1. Quality of Remote Learning

First, we asked about remote learning. The first question was about the amount of work set, and I'm pleased that 79% of you felt the amount was about right. Of the other 21%, there was a mixture of too much and too little.

We also asked several questions about the quality of the remote learning provided. The two main ones were. In all the results which follow, blue is for agree, grey neutral, and red disagree. 

In both cases, above 80% agreed or strongly agreed. I hope that we don't have another lockdown, but the feedback on both sides has been really useful. There were lots of written comments about preferring prerecorded lessons to live as they were easier to support children with while homeschooling, but also a few comments saying that more live teaching would have been better. This is definitely something we will look at if we do ever have to go back to remote learning.

2. Holmleigh Park in general

The majority of the questions dealt with overall perceptions of Holmleigh Park. Those of you with an eye for detail might have noticed that the questions were the same questions used by OFSTED in 2018 - we did this so we could get an accurate picture of whether we're making progress or not. 

In general, the feedback around us setting high expectations, ensuring good behaviour, and students learning well were positive. These were the three biggest criticisms in the 2018 OFSTED report, so it's really heartening to know that so many of you think we're making big progress. 

The slightly less positive answers were around students' overall enjoyment of school:

It's great that we've made so much progress since last year, as this has been a big focus for us this since September, with (for example), launching the House Competition, launching our new Colours System, launching PSHE for all year groups. It's perfectly possible to have excellent behaviour and high expectations while also being an incredibly warm and positive school, and this is something we'll continue to work on over the next few years. 

Finally, the last question asked for overall feedback on the changes since Beaufort became HP, and I was delighted with the results:

Of the parents who answered (some Year 7 and 8 parents chose not to answer as they were unsure what Beaufort was like), 99% agreed agreed that the school has improved since becoming HP, and 84% felt it had improved significantly. I shared this with our staff this morning who were very happy to hear it. We know we have a long way to go still, but it's great to know we're on the right tracks.

3. Written Answers

We had lots of written responses too. As the survey is anonymous, I won't be able to follow up individually, but thank you for the comments. It was great to read such positive messages about some of the staff.

Where you've made suggestions, my leadership team and I will be working through them all. I wanted to share the most popular suggestions (those which came up more than once) with you:

  • Refurbishing the toilets - this was actually the most common suggestion! It's something I'm very keen to keep doing, but isn't cheap at all. While we're in bubbles, we can also only do it when school is closed (e.g. holidays) as all toilets are in regular use. But we'll continue to gradually upgrade them all over the next couple of years to the standard of those in the Maths block and the main building.

  • More variety in clubs - this is definitely something we're keen to do. The main barrier is actually COVID - at the moment, we have to run clubs in year group bubbles - so instead of being able to run one photography club for Year 7-11, we'd have to run five. I hope that the bubble restrictions will be lifted soon, because I think some clubs can be a valuable way to forge friendships between different year groups. 

  • Get an Astro Turf - this is very high up on my agenda, as a keen hockey player myself! Although it's more of a long term project, it's something I'd love to see happen. 

  • More notice of detentions - most of the comments to do with behaviour related to homework detentions for Hegarty/Sparx, Tassomai, and Bedrock, and how parents can check whether their child has completed their homework before the deadline day. This is definitely something we'll look into. 

  • Second hand uniform exchange programme - this is an absolutely brilliant idea which we hadn't thought of at all, so a big thank you for the suggestion! As soon as COVID regulations allow, we're keen to start up some kind of scheme to allow parents to buy and sell second hand uniform when their children grow out of it. 

I will keep you updated with our progress on all of the above. In the meantime, thank you for being so supportive of the school; it really is hugely appreciated.

Best wishes,

Mr Farmbrough